Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Favorite Photographs of 2014

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is to take a step back and reflect on the work I was able to produced over the last 12 months. I probably wouldn't take the time to consider this exercise so carefully if it wasn't for Jim Goldstein's Annual Blog Project -- so many thanks again to Jim for coordinating such a great effort every year!

I started putting together an annual favorites post in 2009, and I ended up skipping it for the first time in 2013. I had very few chances to get out with my camera last year, other than a fantastic trip to Hawaii. As the calendar rolled through the first few months of 2014, I really felt like something was missing from my life and I made a concerted effort to find time to get out and connect with nature through my photography. While my overall number of trips was still relatively small this year, many of the trips I did have were exciting and productive. Some highlights, in addition to working with shorebirds on the local Massachusetts beaches, were spending five fantastic days back in Point Reyes National Seashore and visiting Acadia National Park for the first time (a location that seems destined to become an annual trip for me). Anyway, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my ten personal favorites from 2014.

Curious quail in focus, Point Reyes National Seashore
It was great to return to my favorite park again after almost two years. While June isn't necessarily my preferred season for wildlife there, the quails were out in abundance. This curious male was bouncing between the bushes near the Abbott's Lagoon parking lot.
Curious quail in Point Reyes National Seashore

Sanderling in the shallows at dusk, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
One of my favorite shorebird encounters of the year came in late October on a trip to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The sun was dropping low in the sky and I thought I was heading home empty-handed, but a last minute choice to walk the path to Beach #6 yielded a very friendly flock of sanderlings in the evening light.
Sanderling wading through the shallows at dusk in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Mount Cadillac Sunrise, Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park has been on our to-do list since moving to the Northeast, and we made our first trip there in August. The summit of Mount Cadillac holds some real magic, especially at sunrise.
Sunrise from the summit of Mount Cadillac in Acadia National Park

Sanderlings in a sand storm, Plymouth Beach
It was incredibly windy on my first trip to Plymouth Beach, with really strong gusts whipping up the sand. This is perhaps the most unique shooting conditions I had this year -- and an interesting chance to document the daily challenges of being a shorebird.
Sanderlings brace against blowing sand on Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts

California quail calling out, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
For a long time my photographic wishlist has included photographing a male California quail in song. I love to hear their calls, and they toss their heads back with such gusto. It was awesome to have the chance to spend time watching this quail singing from a photogenic perch along the hillside in Tennessee Valley.
Quail singing from a twisted branch of coyote brush

Sanderling searching for prey at sunset, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
I only made it out twice this fall for the shorebird migration, but I was fortunate to have great encounters on both occasions. My best opportunities were primarily with sanderlings, and this bird's transitional plumage stood out nicely in the late golden light.
Sanderling looking for a meal at sunset in Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Common tern at Sandy Point State Reservation
I was a little too early for migrating shorebirds on this summer trip to the North Shore, but a flock of common terns was a delightful consolation prize.
Common tern on the beach at Sandy Point State Reservation

Dunlin feeding in front of the waves, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
I started experimenting with an even lower ground-level style this year, providing an effectively shallower depth of field for creamy foregrounds and backgrounds.
Dunlin feeding in Massachusetts with shallow DOF

California quail atop the brush, Point Reyes National Seashore
I'm not one to pass up the chance for a quail portrait, and this handsome male was particularly photogenic in this coastal scrub setting in Point Reyes.
A California quail stands atop the brush near Abbott's Lagoon in Point Reyes National Seashore

Sanderling splash, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
It was a very special experience to be laying so close to this sanderling as it washed its feathers and splashed around in the shallows of an ebbing tide.
Sanderling splashing as it takes a bath at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

As a bonus, here is my favorite image that my wife took of me in action this year -- photographing the sunrise in Acadia National Park with my four-legged assistant. One of the best parts of going to Acadia is that it's a super dog-friendly area, so my pup was able to enjoy the entire experience with us.
Photographer photographs the sunrise as his dog watches the morning light in Acadia National Park

If you're interested in seeing more of my work, here are my Favorite Photographs of 2012, Favorite Photographs of 2011, Favorite Photographs of 2010, and Favorite Photographs of 2009.


  1. Love your bird shots, Pat. Looks like you had a great year!

  2. Wonderful photos from the year Pat. I almost didn't get past the first photo of the quail! Lovely framing! Here's to a photographic 2015.

  3. I am late to getting around to the 2014 best of's Pat - but glad I didn't miss these. Love that LOW LOW LOW view of the dunlin! Wish you the best for 2015.